Sunday, July 03, 2011

Pierrot le fou

Pierrot le fou is a 1965 film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo. The film is based on Obsession, a novel by Lionel White. It was Jean-Luc Godard's tenth feature movie, released between Alphaville and Masculin, féminin. The title translates as "Pete the madman", but the film is usually released under its French title internationally.

Like many of Godard's films, Pierrot le fou features characters who break the fourth wall by looking into the camera. It also includes startling editing choices; for example, when Pierrot throws a cake at a woman in the party scene, Godard cuts to an exploding firework just as it hits her. The film has many of the characteristics of the then dominant pop art movement, making constant disjunctive references to various elements of mass culture. Like much pop art the film uses visuals drawn from cartoons and employs an intentionally garish visual aesthetic based on bright primary colors such as red, blue, and yellow.

Pierrot le fou is sometimes seen as an early and paradigmatic example of postmodernism in film. The film's postmodern elements include its parodic but affectionate attitude towards American pop culture, its deliberate mixing of high and low art, its frequent dissection of popular movie conventions, and its use of a decentered, collage-like (or paratactic) narrative structure. The central character of Ferdinand also embodies Jameson's notion of the postmodern citizen as a victim of "compensatory decorative exhilaration" or a mass media-addled mindset in which individuals lose the ability to distinguish truth from fiction or important issues from trivial ones.

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